Richmond Astronomical Society

April 2015 Meeting Minutes

Nov 8th, 2015 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
787th Consecutive Meeting
April 14, 2015

Greetings – approximately 41 in attendance at the meeting.
Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room

Announcements / Share Table
Staunton River State Park – Dark Sky Park Application
Chris M has eclipse glasses that are being sold by the Astronomical League
John Barnette is selling his 120mm refractor
Leslie is back!!!!!!

Library Report: Virginia Eckert brought in sample books for checking out:
A Day in the Moon (1913) by Abbe Moreux, Director of the Bourges Observatory
The Stars in Their Courses (1931) by Sir James Jeans
Deep Sky Objects, A Photographic Guide for the Amateur (1977) by Jack Newton
The Milky Way (1946) by Bart J Bok and Priscella Bok
Satellite of the Sun (1958) by Athelstan Spilhaus
The Life and Times of Tycho Brahe (1947)

Welcome Visitors:
Bill & Melissa Nelson
Andrew Kusterer
Tristen Hall
Laura Greenleaf

Events and Individual Observing:
RAS member observing – Jupiter, Mars, & Venus,
Science Museum – weathered out – windy & cold,
Staunton River Star Party – 1 night – very nice crowd and viewing, good weather
NOVAC expedition – Great Meadows, great crowd, good skies

Upcoming Events
Science Museum Skywatch, Friday, April 17, 7:00 PM: Our regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM.
National Dark Sky Week, April 13-19: Celebrate the stars! Created in 2003 by then local high-school student Jennifer Barlow, of Midlothian, Virginia, International Dark Sky Week has grown to become a worldwide event and a key component of Global Astronomy Month. “I want people to be able to see the wonder of the night sky without the effects of light pollution. The universe is our view into our past and our vision into the future. . . I want to help preserve its wonder.” — Jennifer Barlow
Astronomy Day at the Science Museum, Saturday, April 25, 10:00 AM — 4:00 PM: There will be special activities at the Museum including solar observing (weather permitting), planetarium shows, informative displays and water rocket launches. Please contact Jim Browder at if you can help out with the event. We need volunteers to work indoors at the exhibits and outdoors at the solar observing and water rockets. Betty will be there with her meteorites. We need bottles for bottle rockets. If interested in helping anyway, please contact Matthew Roy!!
Clover Hill High School, April 23rd : Skywatch hosted by the Clover Hill High School Astronomy Club at the Journey Christian Church, coordinated by RAS member Nando Pascual. Please contact if you can help.
RAS Observatory Open House, Saturday, April 25, 7:30 PM: This event has been canceled —future open house to be scheduled at a later date.
Pocahontas Middle School, Saturday, May 2: Skywatch and “Relay for Life” at Pocahontas Middle School in Henrico County. Please contact if you can help with this event. Betty is the coordinator.
Hallsley neighborhood, Saturday, May 2, 8:30 PM, 3900 Brightwalton Rd: Skywatch for the Hallsley neighborhood. Please contact John Raymond at if you can help with this skywatch.
RAS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, May 12, 7:30 PM: The next meeting of the Richmond Astronomical Society will be on Tuesday, May 12, 7:30 PM at the Science Museum of Virginia. Please join us for the meeting and, if you can, for dinner at Arby’s, across the street from the Museum about 6:00 PM. For those that cannot attend the meeting in person, we will stream video of the meeting, internet bandwidth permitting, at this link:
East Coast Star Party, May 14-16: Avery casual, fun star party at the Hampton Lodge Campground, Coinjock, NC. There is a one-time fee of $20 for the entire star party, but if you are camping, you need to register separately with the campground. Please contact Kent Blackwell for more information at
Powhatan State Park Skywatch, Saturday, May 16: RAS and Powhatan State Park will host a skywatch at the Park on May 16 starting at dusk in the equestrian parking area. Please join us if you can. Contact John Raymond at for more information.
Bryan Park at end of May (TBD)
RAS needs volunteer help in April and May! This is a good problem to have, but we have received a number of requests to support astronomy/observing events in late April and early May this year. We are grateful for all of the interest in astronomy, but we need some assistance in covering as many of the events as we can. If you can find some time in April and May to help with these events, we would very much appreciate it — we want to make sure each event has sufficient volunteer astronomers.


Presentation: “Virginia Dark Skies Update,” Laura Greenleaf, Virginia Chapter of the International Dark Sky Association
Laura Greenleaf and Laura Graham spoke about the importance of conserving the dark sky environment. They discussed what can be done locally in the neighborhoods and homes.
A few responsible standards include
• Aim down: lighting fixtures that are angled downward to the ground instead of upwards.
• Small wattage
• Shield to block light from shining where you don’t want it
• Sensers in the house to turn lights off

IDA (International Dark-Sky Association) has a sample letter that we can use to communicate to neighbors and to encourage local ordinance requests.

Someone commented that VDOT has lights shining up on highway signs instead of downward.

A local 2003 high school student, Jennifer Barlow, started the Dark Sky Week which has become an international interest, celebrated every April.

They explained the establishment of different Dark Sky places around the world starting in 2001 to encourage communities around the world to preserve and protect dark sites.
They are categorized into 4 different categories by its closeness to population and by its sky quality. The 4 categories are
1) International Dark Sky Communities (municipalities that have adopted lighting ordinances and strive to educate its citizens). The closest to here is Homer Glen, Illinois (2011)

2) International Dark Sky Parks (natural area with structures lighting and used for educational purposes)
Staunton River has become the 4th darkest sky park
Others in this region are Arcadea and Cherry Springs in North Penn. Spruce Knob in WV. Chapel Hill Astronomical and observational society has been awarded a bronze level of achievement

3) International Dark Sky Reserves (a dark area that is supported by population with the intent to protect the dark environment)
Example: Westhavelland Natural Park in Germany (2014)

4) International Dark Sky Sanctuaries (remote and naturally dark area):
Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy Observatory in Chile
Chile (1998) was the 1st country to establish a National policy to limit 2014 limit blue and UV emissions around observatories.

Two websites that are recommended are:

If you need to contact Laura, you may address her at

Every amateur Astronomer should be members of the IDA. We all need to react locally to fight light pollution. The Richmond Astronomical Society is an IDS club.

We were presented with a question that will affect wide reaching areas of our life style -“What do we lose when we lose the night?”

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